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Hullabaloo


Thursday, May 31, 2018

 
Obama on the morning after

by digby


The Horror

This New York Times piece about former Obama official Ben Rhodes' memoir makes me not want to read it since I think it will bring me back down to a place I don't ever want to be again:
Riding in a motorcade in Lima, Peru, shortly after the 2016 election, President Barack Obama was struggling to understand Donald J. Trump’s victory.

“What if we were wrong?” he asked aides riding with him in the armored presidential limousine.

He had read a column asserting that liberals had forgotten how important identity was to people and had promoted an empty cosmopolitan globalism that made many feel left behind. “Maybe we pushed too far,” Mr. Obama said. “Maybe people just want to fall back into their tribe.”
[...]
Mr. Rhodes describes the reaction of foreign leaders. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan apologized for breaching protocol by meeting with Mr. Trump at Trump Tower in Manhattan after the election. Mr. Obama urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada to take on a more vocal role defending the values they shared.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama that she felt more obliged to run for another term because of Mr. Trump’s election to defend the liberal international order. When they parted for the final time, Ms. Merkel had a single tear in her eye. “She’s all alone,” Mr. Obama noted.

And yet despite criticism even from former advisers to Mr. Obama, Mr. Rhodes offers little sense that the former president thought he could have done more to counter Russian involvement in the election. Mr. Obama had authorized a statement to be issued by intelligence agency leaders a month before the election warning of Russian interference, but was thwarted from doing more because Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, refused to go along with a bipartisan statement.

Mr. Rhodes called Mr. McConnell’s refusal “staggeringly partisan and unpatriotic.” But Mr. Obama, whose Supreme Court nomination had been blocked by Mr. McConnell for months, seemed less surprised.

“What else did you expect from McConnell?” he asked. “He won’t even give us a hearing on Merrick Garland.”

Still, in preparatory sessions before meetings with the news media before the election, aides pressed Mr. Obama to respond to criticism that he should speak out more about Russian meddling. “I talk about it every time I’m asked,” he responded. “What else are we going to do? We’ve warned folks.”

He noted that Mr. Trump was already claiming that the election would be manipulated if Hillary Clinton won. “If I speak out more, he’ll just say it’s rigged,” Mr. Obama said.

Rhodes writes that neither he nor the President knew about the FBI investigation into Trump's campaign and Russia. That's what the FBI and the Department of Justice say as well, although you'll never convince the wingnuts that the Kenyan Usurper didn't direct them to take down Trump (but wait until he won to do it for some reason...)

The next day, Mr. Obama focused on cheering up his despondent staff. At one point, he sent a message to Mr. Rhodes saying, “There are more stars in the sky than grains of sand on the earth.”

But days later, Mr. Obama seemed less sanguine. “I don’t know,” he told aides. “Maybe this is what people want. I’ve got the economy set up well for him. No facts. No consequences. They can just have a cartoon.”

He added that “we’re about to find out just how resilient our institutions are, at home and around the world.”

The day Mr. Obama hosted Mr. Trump at the White House after the election seemed surreal. Mr. Trump kept steering the conversation back to the size of his rallies, noting that he and Mr. Obama could draw big crowds, but Mrs. Clinton could not, Mr. Rhodes writes.

Afterward, Mr. Obama called a few aides to the Oval Office to ruminate on the encounter. “I’m trying to place him in American history,” he said.

“He peddles” bull, Mr. Rhodes answered. “That character has always been part of the American story. You can see it right back to some of the characters in Huckleberry Finn.”

“Maybe,” Mr. Obama answered, “that’s the best we can hope for.”

Jesus.

I wonder if Obama knew that Trump's only agenda would be to reverse everything he did.

It's true that there have always been conmen and snake oil salesmen in America. Don't stop with Mark Twain. Read Herman Melville, Sinclair Lewis, F. Scott Fitzgerald and more for a road map to this bullshit. There have been endless cults and faux "movements" led by such hustlers from the very beginning. These hoaxsters and phonies are as American as it gets.

I don't think we ever thought that one could become president although I guess we should have figured it out. And in this case, the fault really lies with the fools who follow him. They yearned to be fed some ugly, ugly hate and they got it in spades.

Obama was obviously depressed by the result as all decent people were. But he always seems to be surprised by the fact that Republicans, including their voters, could ever be as ruthlessly nihilistic and anarchistic as they are. All the way to the end, it seems.

I worry that even in the face of this monumental clusterfuck of an administration, other Democratic officials have still not learned that lesson.

.